NBC, TDN, Evers Honored With Eclipse Awards For Television, Multimedia, Photography Work

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters today announced the winners of the 2020 Media Eclipse Awards in six categories. This year’s awards are highlighted by Natalie Voss, Editor-in-Chief of the Paulick Report, becoming the first individual to win two writing award categories in the same year since the late Bill Nack earned two awards in 1991.

The 2020 Media Eclipse Award winners are as follows:

Feature/Commentary Writing – Natalie Voss, Paulick Report “’An Angel On His Shoulder’: This Thoroughbred’s Fate Was Written In Ink,” May 13, 2020.

News/Enterprise Writing – Natalie Voss, Paulick Report – Multi-part Series: “A Decade In, How Are We Doing With Thoroughbred Aftercare?” Dec. 2, 2019; “Emptying The Ocean With A Teaspoon: The Challenges Of Aftercare,” Dec. 3, 2019; and “Aftercare Should Not Be An Afterthought: Solutions For The Future,” Dec. 4, 2019.

Television – Live Racing Programming – NBC Sports, “The Breeders’ Cup World Championships,” Nov. 7, 2020; Billy Matthews and Lindsay Schanzer, producers.

Television – Features – NBC Sports “Riders Up: The World’s First Sports Bubble,” Oct. 2, 2020 on NBCSN; Produced by the Hennegan Brothers.

Audio/Multi-Media Internet – Thoroughbred Daily News (TDN) “To Hell and Back: Belmont Marks A Deserved Triumph for New York City,” Joe Bianca, writer and narrator, Patty Wolfe, producer.

Photography – Alex Evers, Paulick Report “A Derby Without Fans,” Sept. 21, 2020.

Entries were accepted for 2020 Media Eclipse Awards consideration for works which appeared from Nov. 17, 2019 to Nov. 20, 2020.

Television – Live Racing Programming – NBC Sports
Incorporating a vast array of technological enhancements over a three-hour broadcast from bucolic Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky, NBC Sports has won the Live Racing Television Programming Eclipse Award for its Breeders’ Cup World Championships coverage on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020 on NBC.

Held under restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic, NBC Sports produced its telecast of the two-day, 37th World Championships following all of NBCUniversal’s health and safety guidelines and protocols.

This was the first horse racing event of 2020 that NBC Sports had its full announce team, as well as much of its production team, on-site. The Saturday Breeders’ Cup broadcast, which included five live races, and culminated with Kentucky Derby winner Authentic capturing the $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), delivered viewers unique perspectives throughout the day. Among the many production and technical elements were access to more than 80 cameras — nearly twice as many cameras deployed from the 2019 Breeders’ Cup — including a dedicated camera on each individual Breeders’ Cup horse, starting in the paddock and carrying through to the gate break. For the first time, NBC used multiple live jockey cams during the Breeders’ Cup races; and increased the number of jockey and trainer microphones.

As an added element between the races, NBC joined fan parties of viewers enjoying the broadcast from around the world.

NBC Sports’ coverage of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships was produced by Billy Matthews and Lindsay Schanzer, and directed by Kaare Numme, in conjunction with Jim Carr and Carr-Hughes Productions. The coordinating producer of NBC’s horse racing coverage is Rob Hyland.

“It was gratifying to have most of our team back at the track for the first time in 2020 to culminate an unprecedented year in sports, and to be recognized for one of the most innovative horse racing productions we’ve ever done, in collaboration with Breeders’ Cup and Keeneland,” said Schanzer. “Under the most challenging conditions, teamwork made this presentation a great success.”

The NBC Sports talent on the broadcast consisted of Ahmed Fareed, Jerry Bailey, Randy Moss, Matt Bernier, Donna Brothers, Britney Eurton, Nick Luck, Eddie Olczyk, Laffit Pincay III, Kenny Rice and racecaller Larry Collmus.

NBC Sports also earned an honorable mention in the Live Racing Programming category for its broadcast of the 146th Kentucky Derby, which aired on Sept. 5, 2020. Hyland was coordinating producer.

Judges in the Live Television Programming category were: Charlsie Cantey, exercise rider, trainer and former racing commentator for CBS, ABC, NBC and ESPN; Dick Jerardi, former writer and columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News; and Dave Johnson, track announcer, television analyst and race caller for ABC Sports, and now co-host of Down The Stretch on SiriusXM.

Television Feature – NBC Sports

“Riders Up: The World’s First Sports Bubble,” which aired on NBCSN on Oct. 2, 2020, and directed and produced by the Hennegan Brothers of John and Brad Hennegan, documents the successful collaboration of the management of Santa Anita Park and the track’s world renowned jockey colony to create a safe and healthy environment for a six-week race meeting in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Following approval from the Los Angeles County Health Department and through rigorous testing procedures of isolating the jockeys and essential workers into a “sports bubble,” Santa Anita Park resumed racing on May 15, 2020 after it was suspended on March 27.

Over three weekends in the spring of 2020, the Hennegan Brothers interviewed members of the Santa Anita executive team on its strategy and tactics during the race meeting, and filmed the daily lives of the jockeys riding during the day at of the world’s most picturesque racetracks. “Riders Up” displayed jockeys living in Hollywood cast trailers in the track’s parking lot, and enjoying special evenings of karaoke, poker, movies, and even a 50th birthday party for rider Aaron Gryder.

In addition to Gryder, interviews with Triple Crown wining jockeys Mike Smith, Victor Espinoza, among others revealed their concerns of the new experience, but also brought to light a special camaraderie for the riders, establishing closer relationships inside the closed quarters.

“We were very proud to tell this story of management and the jockeys coming together during this once in a lifetime occurrence,” said John Hennegan. “The seriousness of the safety measures employed by Santa Anita was eye-opening. We were under the same protocols as the jockeys and took every precaution to document this important time in history. Playing a small part in telling a transparent story was extremely gratifying, and was saying to the rest of the world ‘we can do this.’”

The program reveals that during the time of the revised spring meeting at Santa Anita, not one jockey or essential personnel tested positive for COVID-19. A total of 1,800 jobs were saved. In July 2020, the NBA, NHL and MLS returned utilizing sports bubbles.

The Hennegan Brothers produced the Eclipse Award-winning documentaries in 2008 “The First Saturday in May,” which aired on HRTV, and in 2015 for “Ironman Perry Ouzts,” which aired on AT&T U-Verse Sports. This is NBC Sports’ sixth Eclipse Award in the Feature-Television category since 1999.

Judges in the Television Features category were Liz Bronstein, television show Runner and executive producer, and creator the Animal Planet 2008-9 series “Jockeys”; Lenny Shulman, Emmy Award-winning writer/producer who also served as BloodHorse Features editor; and Chris Svendsen, producer-director for CBS Sports.

Audio/Multimedia Internet – Thoroughbred Daily News (TDN)  

In “To Hell and Back: Belmont Marks A Deserved Triumph for New York City,” writer and narrator Joe Bianca and producer Patty Wolfe collaborated on a Thoroughbred Daily News (TDN) multimedia presentation of Bianca’s tribute to the Belmont Stakes, a New York sports institution at Belmont Park for more than 100 years and its importance during a year in which the city was ravaged by the Coronavirus pandemic.

This is the first Eclipse Award for Bianca, from Brooklyn, New York, and the second Eclipse Award for Wolfe, from Orlando, Florida. Wolfe shared the honor in 2018 with Christie DeBernardis for the TDN Multimedia piece on Off the Track Thoroughbred (OTTB) programs.

“Winning an Eclipse Award is an honor like no other in racing and I’m immensely grateful to have been selected this year,” said Bianca, associate editor of TDN. “I want to thank our producer Patty Wolfe and her incredible team of talented editors for illustrating my words so beautifully. Also thank you to our publisher Sue Finley for her steadfast support for my work as we branch out into different types of media at TDN. It has obviously been a very difficult and tragic year, but I’m so proud and thankful to have moved people with one of the inspirational success stories of 2020 in an ode to my beloved hometown.”

“This video is a reminder of the things we always had but almost lost,” said Wolfe. “Other professional sports were not competing at that time, and New York had just been through a nightmare with the pandemic. NYRA’s running of the Belmont Stakes in June was momentous. Talking directly into his computer, Joe’s authenticity was compelling as he put the magnitude of the moment into words.”

The video was posted on June 19, 2020, one day before the Belmont Stakes, which was run this year without fans in attendance. Bianca’s narration and text recalls the rich history of Thoroughbred racing in New York and Belmont Park, which first hosted the Belmont Stakes at its current site on the Queens/Long Island border in 1905. With Wolfe weaving together archival racing footage with images of New York City strained by crises over many decades, and now impacted more than ever the current pandemic, Bianca’s emotional words reveal the city’s grit and resilience.

“We’ve proven it time and time again. We bounced back from 9/11 with solidarity and generosity and went about our lives. When outsiders predicted chaos, we took care of our city during the 2003 blackout and again through Hurricane Sandy. Crime plummeted exactly when the city was at its most vulnerable. Yes, there’s bluntness and some rudeness and if you’re a tourist you might’ve been bumped out of the way once or twice by a muttering New Yorker. But there’s also compassion, understanding and empathy. You can’t survive in a city of 8,000,000 without all of those attributes.

Because of that, we get a summer. We get to live our lives with reasonable precautions for the next few months. And amid a sports desert, racing has been an oasis. So it’s fitting that on the first day of that summer, we get: the Belmont Stakes. The first major sports attraction in New York since the pandemic descended upon us.”

The winning entry can be viewed here.

Honorable mention in the Audio/Multimedia Internet category went to ESPN.com for its multimedia presentation of “This House is Condemned” for ESPN Investigates Bloodlines, reported and hosted by 2010 Feature/Commentary writing Eclipse-Award winner Wright Thompson and executive producer Eric Neel, which was posted on Sept. 2, 2020; and to 2019 Eclipse Award Multimedia winner Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN) for 2020 HRRN Fantasy Derby, which aired on HRRN on May 2, 2020.

Judges in the Audio/Multi-Media Internet category were Glenn Crouter, Former lead television anchor for Woodbine Live Network and sports and lifestyle announcer for Newstalk 1010 in Toronto; Bob Curran, longtime Vice President of Corporate Communications for The Jockey Club and graduate of the St. Bonaventure University journalism program; and Julie Sarno, freelance writer, former editorial staff member of The BloodHorse, staff member at The Meadowlands, staff member and Department Head at Del Mar.

Photography – Alex Evers

Evers, from Hermosa Beach, California, has won his first Eclipse Award for his photograph of the 15-horse-field in the 146th Kentucky Derby on Sept. 5 at Churchill Downs rounding the first turn before a nearly empty racetrack. Due to COVID-19 restrictions instituted by Churchill Downs just weeks before the event — for the first time — America’s most historic race was held with no fans in attendance.

A photographer with Eclipse Sportswire since 2010 and other international outlets, Evers’ photo was taken shortly after 7 p.m. ET with a remote Canon 5D Mark IV camera mounted on 13-foot light stand. The image displays a completely empty box area in the foreground facing the Derby field passing by in fading sunset, leaving behind the homestretch of the expansive pavilions and the signature Twin Spires in gathering shadows.

“That was a story that I wanted to tell,” Evers said. “It was a unique day. There was an eerie feeling of emptiness at the track, and I wanted to juxtapose that against this massive group of horses. The elevation of the shot with the ladder was the key. Pulling back wide and showing the rows of empty seats in front of the track as the horses went by.”

Having photographed a dozen Kentucky Derbies since 2006, Evers prepared for the event about one month before by creating “story boards” of shots he wants to use with remote cameras set up at various points at Churchill Downs. Virtually all of those cameras were placed at a low vantage point for racing shots, but the elevated shot along the first turn was the only one used for scenic purposes.
At about 10 p.m. that evening Evers viewed his photo for the first time. “I wasn’t really pleased with my racing shots, but this one on the first turn really stood out.”

Evers describes receiving his first Eclipse Award as overwhelming.

“It’s been a lifelong dream to be recognized for a photograph. It’s so special to share it with my family. I wish my grandfather were here because he took me to Hollywood Park and we sat in the Cinema Terrace. I used to dress up in jockey silks and go to the track and bother (Hall of Fame jockey and Eclipse Award winner) Chris McCarron.”

Evers added, “I sometimes feel like an ambassador of the sport, trying to show its beauty of those inside and outside racing.”

Evers credits the late Michael Marten, who won the 1995 and 1999 Eclipse Awards for Photography, as a mentor and inspiration.

The winning photograph can be viewed here

Judges in the category were Mark Abraham, freelance photographer and currently deputy director of the United States Senate Press Photographers’ Gallery; Rob Carr, staff sports photographer with Getty Images; and Mike Kane, veteran Thoroughbred journalist and photographer.

The 2020 Eclipse Awards ceremony will be a virtual event. It will be televised live on TVG and streamed on other outlets on Thursday, Jan. 28 at 7:30 p.m. ET.

In addition to Spendthrift Farm, Eclipse Awards sponsors include Keeneland, Roberts Communications, Four Roses Bourbon, Daily Racing Form, Breeders’ Cup, FanDuel, The Stronach Group, TVG, Dean Dorton, Jackson Family Wines, Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, and Hallway Feeds.

The post NBC, TDN, Evers Honored With Eclipse Awards For Television, Multimedia, Photography Work appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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